[DAY 56] Picky Eaters

I crammed the burger into my mouth, uncertain of how to feel about it. I never tasted anything so plain, despite having eaten the same kind of burger with the same sauces and dressing. I stayed quiet. I was hesitant to speak with uneasy thoughts filled up my mind, and I didn’t know if it was because of the unexpectedly tasteless burger or the tiring day just gone by. Whatever was in that burger, I was surprised to see myself dislike it so much. I was half excited for finally having a negative opinion of something on the table, yet I was also worried that I might have accidentally trained myself into something I have never been: a picky eater.

I might still have a long way to be one, though, but I’m curious. I have hung out with friends who never change their orders at any restaurant they had been to more than twice, “because I’m scared it wouldn’t be as good.” People who put aside the tomatoes, the vegetables, the pineapple pieces. I have heard food is the way to happiness, but I have seen couples fighting over what put in a dish or what one calls for at a restaurant. I think fight over food is the most fortunate fight one can get into, but it happens, and it’s not so fun.

Anyway, since I couldn’t empathize with these people and their food choices, I did a little Internet search about picky eaters? Is it natured or nurtured? And can these people change when they want to or circumstance make them?

It turns out, according to this post, one’s food taste has three main attribute: biological, environmental, and experiential. Biologically explained, due to “the presence and absence of certain genes,” a person can find bitterness extremely unappealing, for example. People who find cilantro soapy have olfactory receptor genes that detect aldehyde flavor compounds in cilantro and soap. Considering the environmental and experiential factor of one’s position on the picky eater spectrum, researchers argue that the combination of aroma and mouthfeel has association with memory and culture exposure. That is to say, even though our preferences for food all biologically affected, we can be picky by nurtured.

Now that I think about it, American cuisine has exposed me to many things I dislike so much. Cheese, peanut butter, and chicken breasts are a few of many. I don’t really know how my feelings towards these food make cheese lovers, peanut butter fans, and chicken breasts only think, but in many occasions when I politely expressed my preference, it opens up chances for conversations about culture, cuisine, and heritage. I think it has been a great way for others to ask follow-up questions such as, “so, how do you manage to live without cheese?” The question is, we just do. And you just do without my favorite food. Without fish. Durians. Or chicken bones. It’s a fun thing, food and culture, to explore and expect the unexpected.

Conclusion: I used to be judgemental towards picky eaters, but I understand more their struggles now. I won’t promise I’ll change overnight, but I hope to find myself more express more understanding for others. That was fun, to ask Google something I never cared about before.

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I came across a passage on the New York Times, and it goes like this:

Jane Kauer, an anthropologist at the University of Pennsylvania, was surprised when research revealed that some adults rejected raw tomatoes for reasons that had nothing to do with flavor. Participants described being turned off by the “gross thing that happens when you pierce a tomato and the guts come out of it.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/29/well/eat/when-the-picky-eater-is-a-grown-up.html

I don’t really know how to react to this but to laugh. I HATE cooked tomatoes. They are gross, and the guts come out before it is supposed to! How can anyone ever do that?

Published by Thi Le

Human.

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